Frey's TV idea is in pieces too

Times Staff Writer

James Frey waxed down his surfboard for a TV pilot, but it looks like the disgraced memoirist behind "A Million Little Pieces" won't be catching a wave on network schedules anytime soon.

Before Oprah Winfrey castigated Frey for "duping" her with his book earlier this year, the writer sold Fox a script for a one-hour, apparently tongue-in-cheek crime drama. According to the script, it's about Malibu-based private eye Donald "Insane" Tremaine, "former world champion surfer, PI, ... Chevelle driver and lover of ladies." We're going to go out on a limb here and assume that the character sprang entirely from Frey's imagination, in a process similar to that employed so brilliantly in his bestselling memoir.

A copy of the script obtained by Channel Island finds Tremaine in a Tijuana caper, hunting for the estranged daughter of a filthy-rich client, aided by his sidekick Marvin, a bald, cross-dressing loser.

Tremaine: "I'm going to Mavericks, Marvin."

Marvin: "Mavericks. The biggest, most dangerous waves in the world. Average wave is 30 feet high, some waves as big as 75 feet. What do they do when Donald "Insane" Tremaine, former world professional surf champion and big wave legend, shows up?"

Tremaine: "Not much."

Alas, we won't get to see Tremaine eat chowder in the barrel, or whatever lady-loving, surfing PIs do, because Channel Island has learned that Fox has quietly killed the pilot. A network spokesman said the decision had nothing to do with Frey's book or his run-in with Oprah. (A spokeswoman for Frey didn't respond to a request for comment by press time.)

That leaves the possibility that the decision had something to do with the script.

Fox boosted by 'Idol' and '24'

Thanks mostly to "American Idol," with a shout-out to "24," Fox has for the first time in its history won the first four nights of prime-time rankings this week in the adults ages 18 to 49 demographic.

Thursday's "Idol," which saw another four hopefuls booted from the competition, yielding the 12 finalists, drew 26.3 million total viewers, with a 10.6 rating/27 share in the demographic, according to preliminary figures from Nielsen Media Research.

CBS is probably muttering hosannas that, starting next week, Fox's singing competition will return to its normal Tuesday-Wednesday pattern. The Thursday "Idol" has hammered "Survivor: Panama," which has plummeted 26% compared with last year's "Survivor: Palau." On Thursday, Mark Burnett's show drew a 5.3 rating/14 share in the demographic, with 15.4 million total viewers.

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